The Church of Scotland has voted to allow parish ministers and deacons to marry same-sex couples if they wish.
At the 2022 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on Monday, 274 commissioners voted in favour of the move and 136 against.
They have approved an overture to change a standing Church law to enable parish ministers, known as Ministers of Word and Sacrament, and deacons to apply to become authorised celebrants to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
A report to the General Assembly makes it clear that no person would be required to participate in the solemnisation of, or be involved in the arrangements for, a same-sex marriage unless they explicitly wished to do so.
All celebrants would be expected to take account of the “peace and unity and pastoral needs of the congregation and any parish or other grouping of which it is a part” while considering conducting a same-sex marriage ceremony.
Reverend Craig Dobney was among those who urged commissioners to approve same-sex marriage.
He said: “I’ve seen the heartbreak of those in same-sex relationships in our congregations who are unable to marry in their home church, devout Christians though they are. To be married, in front of their church families, would mean everything to them but they were not able to do so.
“I worry that our churches have become irrelevant to our the communities.
“We can stay in our ivory towers, in our marble mansions, in our granite buildings and sit there thinking quire happily that we are following scripture by stopping people from coming to our churches, by making people unwelcome.
“We talk about being a welcoming church, I sometimes have to question that. Actually, the question we should be asking, are we as a church welcome in our communities?”
However, others questioned whether approving the move would put people under pressure to be involved in same-sex marriages even if they did not wish to do so, or make it more of a personal issue for ministers rather than the institution of the church.